Children of God Love One Another
1 See what an incredible quality of love the Father has shown to us, that we would [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are! For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, we are [even here and] now children of God, and it is not yet made clear what we will be [after His coming]. We know that when He comes and is revealed, we will [as His children] be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is [in all His glory]. 3 And everyone who has this hope [confidently placed] in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure (holy, undefiled, guiltless).
4 Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness [ignoring God’s law by action or neglect or by tolerating wrongdoing—being unrestrained by His commands and His will]. 5 You know that He appeared [in visible form as a man] in order to take away sins; and in Him there is [absolutely] no sin [for He has neither the sin nature nor has He committed sin or acts worthy of blame]. 6 No one who abides in Him [who remains united in fellowship with Him—deliberately, knowingly, and habitually] practices sin. No one who habitually sins has seen Him or known Him. 7 Little children (believers, dear ones), do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who practices righteousness [the one who strives to live a consistently honorable life—in private as well as in public—and to conform to God’s precepts] is righteous, just as He is righteous. 8 The one who practices sin [separating himself from God, and offending Him by acts of disobedience, indifference, or rebellion] is of the devil [and takes his inner character and moral values from him, not God]; for the devil has sinned and violated God’s law from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one who is born of God [deliberately, knowingly, and habitually] practices sin, because (a)God’s seed [His principle of life, the essence of His righteous character] remains [permanently] in him [who is born again—who is reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, and set apart for His purpose]; and he [who is born again] cannot habitually [live a life characterized by] sin, because he is born of God and longs to please Him. 10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are clearly identified: anyone who does not practice righteousness [who does not seek God’s will in thought, action, and purpose] is not of God, nor is the one who does not [unselfishly] (b)love his [believing] brother.
11 For this is the message which you [believers] have heard from the beginning [of your relationship with Christ], that we should [unselfishly] love and seek the best for one another; 12 and not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother [Abel]. And why did he murder him? Because Cain’s deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous.
13 Do not be surprised, believers, if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into Life, because we love the brothers and sisters. He who does not love remains in [spiritual] death. 15 Everyone who hates (works against) his brother [in Christ] is [at heart] a murderer [by God’s standards]; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.(A) 16 By this we know [and have come to understand the depth and essence of His precious] love: that He [willingly] laid down His life for us [because He loved us]. And we ought to lay down our lives for the believers. 17 But whoever has the (c)world’s goods (adequate resources), and sees his brother in need, but has no compassion for him, how does the love of God live in him? 18 Little children (believers, dear ones), let us not love [merely in theory] with word or with tongue [giving lip service to compassion], but in action and in truth [in practice and in sincerity, because practical acts of love are more than words]. 19 By this we will know [without any doubt] that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart and quiet our conscience before Him 20 whenever our heart convicts us [in guilt]; for God is greater than our heart and He knows all things [nothing is hidden from Him because we are in His hands]. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not convict us [of guilt], we have confidence [complete assurance and boldness] before God; 22 and we receive from Him whatever we ask because we [carefully and consistently] keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight [habitually seeking to follow His plan for us].
23 This is His commandment, that we believe [with personal faith and confident trust] in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and [that we unselfishly] love and seek the best for one another, just as He commanded us. 24 The one who habitually keeps His commandments [obeying His word and following His precepts, abides and] remains in Him, and He in him. By this we know and have the proof that He [really] abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us [as a gift].
a. 1 John 3:9: I.e. in human terms, God’s seed is like a divine “genetic code” which is passed on to His children and produces in them the desire to live in a way which pleases Him.
b. 1 John 3:10: See note 2:10.
c. 1 John 3:17: Lit livelihood of the world.